Church meets challenge of funerals under Coronavirus restrictions says Canon Ron Greenall

Lancashire clergyman Canon Ron Greenall, author of our Reverent Reflections column, was one of the first vicars to conduct a funeral under the new Cornavirus restrictions.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 5:39 pm
St Anne's church, Woodplumpton where Canon Ron Greenall officiated at the graveside funeral

Numbers attending funerals are now restricted to close family and services can no longer be held inside a church.

He shared his account of the ceremony held in the graveyard at St Anne’s church, Woodplumpton, near Preston, where he is the acting priest in charge of service provision, in the hope it will provide confidence and reassurance to families facing funerals under such restrictions.

One change was that the coffin was lowered into the ground at the start of the service so the funeral director and his team could move away.

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Canon Greenall said: “Never before in my 57 years of ministry have I done this and I was apprehensive to say the least. I need not have been. The family were so understanding that we must keep the rules for all our sakes.

“The mourners stood a metre and a half away from one another. The two hymns were said, the scripture passage and prayers used and the eulogy, read by me, being composed from email points given to me from the family.

"Of course there could be no hand shaking but a quiet withdrawal and dispersion. The atmosphere was so peaceful and deep and reverent and the directions kept to the letter.”

He added: “I am aware of all the changes we have to face as long as this epidemic exists. I have found the same understanding and willingness to change dates and venues to the future for families planning baptisms and weddings.”

Canon Ron also praised local residents and said: “Phone calls offering doorstep shopping without physical contact are boundless. Some media news coverage has concentrated on the “stock up all I can get and beggar my neighbour” attitude so I felt it right to write about how in this crisis the biblical ‘Love your neighbour and help them’ is reigning supreme.”